Chart of the Week: For India, Toilets Bring Benefits

By iMFdirect

Improving access to sanitation, an important Sustainable Development Goal, is essential for achieving gender equality and economic prosperity. It leads to increased female participation in the workforce, higher literacy and faster economic growth, according to the IMF’s latest research on India.  (more…)

The Two Rebalancing Acts

Achieving a “strong, balanced, and sustained world recovery”—to quote from the goal set in Pittsburgh by the G-20—was never going to be easy. It requires much more than just going back to business as usual. It requires two fundamental and complex economic rebalancing acts: internal and external rebalancing. These two rebalancing acts are taking place too slowly. As the latest World Economic Outlook reveals, the result is a recovery which is neither strong, nor balanced, and runs the risk of not being sustained.

Saving the Lost Generation

Oslo was the scene this week of a remarkable event that brought together global leaders from government, business, trade unions, and academia to discuss what many of them said is the biggest issue facing the world today: the jobs crisis. In this blog, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn reflects on unemployment today—the highest level in history—and, importantly, about what can be done to save the potentially "lost generation" of unemployed young people.

Turning up the Volume—Asia’s Voice and Leadership in Global Policymaking

Asia’s voice is getting louder and the IMF—and, indeed, the world—is listening. Blogging from the IMF and government of Korea-sponsored “Asia 21” conference in Daejeon, Korea, IMF Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara reflects on the rise of Asia’s voice and leadership in global economic policymaking. The caliber of conference participants and the quality of dialogue speak volumes about the range and depth of expertise and experience in the region. The world needs Asian leadership, not only to sustain global growth, but also to develop policy mechanisms to contend with tomorrow’s economic challenges.

Looking Beyond the Crisis

By John Lipsky in Jackson Hole

In my first two Jackson Hole blogs, I addressed some of the key challenges to restoring growth. Yet whatever shape the recovery takes once the Great Recession ends, several significant long-term problems will have to be faced if a solid expansion is to be sustained.

In particular, the principal sources of growth in many economies will shift, structural hurdles to growth will have to be overcome, the legacy of anti-crisis fiscal policies will have to be dealt with, and the governance of global economic policy will have to adjust to new realities. In other words, the agenda will be packed for many Jackson Hole Symposiums well into the future.

At present, growth in the principal economies is being restarted with the help of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. As has been noted widely, a sustained expansion will require a shift back to private demand. Yet the U.S. recession has been marked by a significant increase in U.S. household saving out of current income that has been associated with the substantial losses in household net worth suffered during the past two years.

MARKETS STABLE DESPITE TERRORIST THREATS

The stimulus has provided a fillip to markets.

An immediate result has been weak consumption spending, and a significant decline in the U.S. current account surplus. Not only did these shifts appear to be inevitable even before the current crisis, but they almost certainly are going to be long-lasting.

In other words, it was the case prior to the crisis that sustaining a global expansion will require strengthened demand growth outside the United States, an aspect that the current crisis has served to make clear to all. This premise already underpinned the IMF-sponsored Multilateral Consultations on Global Imbalances that took place in 2006/07. The aim of that exercise was to develop mutually consistent policies that would support sustained growth while reducing global imbalances by facilitating an appropriate shift internationally in  the sources of growth, especially in economies that have relied on export-led growth. Whether the current crisis might have been moderated if the agreed policy programs had been fully implemented is moot, but the Consultation’s broad policy goals will remain relevant in the post-crisis period.

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High-Stakes Choices In Next Stage of Crisis

By Caroline Atkinson

After averting a second Great Depression, what should policy makers do to foster recovery?

Economic policymakers are rarely popular. Central bank governors are notorious for removing the punch bowl at the party. Ministers of finance are traditionally the ones who say no to their colleagues’ pet spending projects.

In the upside-down world of recent months, finance ministers and central bank governors around the world seemed to have switched sides.  They became cheerleaders for expansionary policies. The IMF has argued strongly for this, as long as countries had room to take on more debt. Despite some hiccups, it seems clearer with every economic release that the extraordinary actions governments have taken have paid off, at least in halting the slide. Economic prospects may not be quite as bright as recent market moves would suggest. But the risk of spreading financial collapse has lessened markedly

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